University warns men about two fraternities

It's spring semester anew, and as usual Duke's greeks and greeks-to-be have some decisions to make in the coming weeks. Ladies and gentlemen, "rush" starts today.

For some, however, the process of finding the right greek organization began even before they returned to Durham for the spring semester. The University issued a letter to the families of first-year students over winter break, urging parents to discuss pledging options with their children and bringing particular attention to the situations of fraternities that are not members of the Interfraternity Council--a move members of off-campus fraternities say was unnecessary.

"The emergence of unrecognized off-campus groups is fairly new, so we thought it important to inform families about their situation so that informed decisions could be made," said Larry Moneta, vice president for Student Affairs. "I do not encourage any student to join an organization not recognized by the University."

Ben Rich, president of off-campus fraternity Eta Prime, said he was upset when he heard that the University was discouraging potential members from considering non-IFC fraternities--a sentiment he shared with other members of Eta Prime and members of Delta Phi Alpha, another off-campus fraternity.

"I understand that the University is upset that they have less control over our particular fraternities because we don't subscribe to a national group, but we're still the same group of guys, just under a different name," Rich said. "I don't see why anyone should be deterring freshmen from joining a good group of people."

Dean of Students Sue Wasiolek said the University issued the letter to students' families after assessing the outcomes of similar situations. "We have had unrecognized groups off-campus before, and because they have not endured for long, many young men found themselves without a group after they joined," she said.

Moneta added that students who pledge with non-IFC fraternities "will find themselves without the privileges accorded to all recognized groups."

Members of off-campus fraternities said Moneta and Wasiolek's warnings were unwarranted, however, as membership and funding in their organizations has been consistent and strong.

"We are a viable, vibrant, well-organized organization, despite the fact that we're not part of the IFC," said Ryan Turner, vice president of Delta Phi Alpha. "In fact, I think it's partly due to the fact that we're an off-campus fraternity because it's put us in a situation that requires us to be on our game, which we are."

Turner added that a general trend toward an off-campus social scene, not specific to the greek community, has made off-campus fraternities viable options for students looking to experience greek life at Duke. Members of both Eta Prime and Delta Phi Alpha said they are not worried, however, that the University's warnings will have a negative effect on their recruitment processes.

"Freshmen guys are smart enough to realize that we have our acts together," said Matt Sullivan, a rush chair for Eta Prime and a reporter for The Chronicle. Sullivan noted that the off-campus fraternities will hold a recruitment process that mirrors the IFC process.

For its own part, the IFC will hold a recruitment process that has been tweaked little from years past. Among the minor changes this year are the elimination of a "dry week" and a different system of distributing invitations.

IFC President Brett Green said that instead of a "dry week," the IFC is recommending that fraternities host several dry events throughout the recruitment process. "Hopefully this will reduce the emphasis on regulation and provide more responsibility to fraternities to hold non-alcoholic events when they so chose," he said.

Green said invitations will be distributed this year through campus mail instead of being passed out during a scheduled period of time--a change he said could be more convenient for potential members. Todd Adams, assistant dean of students for greek life, noted that fraternity bids will be extended on a Monday instead of a Sunday this year so as not to conflict with the Superbowl.

Sullivan said the off-campus fraternities will hold sign-ups and hosting theme parties, semi-formals and other activities on the same timetable as the IFC.

The sorority recruitment process has also undergone some minor changes since last year. Anna Burkhead, vice president of membership for the Panhellenic Council, said the council has modified excuse policies to ensure fairness in the process.

"Even if they have to miss a portion of the [recruitment] round, we try our hardest to make sure that women have significant time with each chapter," she said.

Burkhead added that the council has been working to increase privacy for bid distribution.

Devon MacWilliam, Panhellenic Council president, said another change will be in the timing of payment of the recruitment fee. This year, potential members will have to pay the recruitment fee to continue to the fourth round.


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